December 16

Judge’s support for monarchy “a problem”, admits A-G

Constitutional monarchists come from across the political spectrum. This was confirmed to me during the 1999 referendum campaign when I was chairing a strategy meeting in a certain state.

One of the ten person group made a disparaging observation about the Greens. Two of those present then declared they were Greens. They wanted to know whether they were still welcome.

I assured them they were. They stayed and campaigned to the end.

That supporter of the constitution was brought home to me recently. I recently saw a circular praising Prince Charles. It was for a lunch I was to speak at in one of our capital cities. The writer could fairly be described as associated with the centre left.

Here are some interesting statistics. Of the Board of Directors of ACM, 50% have at some time in their lives held elected positions in the Australian Labor Party.

In the referendum, 62% of Labor seats voted No.  Given that the Party campaigned strongly for a Yes vote, this was a solid rebuke for those who tried to impose a party line.  

The Liberals gave no recommendation. The voters in their seats registered their annoyance with the liberal republican politicians:  73% of their seats voted No.

 The Nationals, unwavering supporters of the constitution, recommended a No vote. And that his how every one of their seats voted.  

There is a myth put out by republicans that constitutional monarchists are all crusty conservatives. This is demonstrably  untrue.

…support for monarchy "a problem"…

Worse, there is a prejudice against constitutional monarchists, even against the employment of them.

This is especially so in the performing arts and the media.

That this prejudice touches other sectors was demonstrated in a story about Justice Michael Kirby’s retirement from the High Court.

The Attorney-General at the time of Justice Kirby's appointment to the High Court in 1996, Michael Lavarch, says that he had had then  “a problem with his support for the monarchy" : The Australian, 13 December, 2008.

A problem with his support for the monarchy? 

What on earth did that have to do with judicial appointment? The question as to whether Australia is to remain a crowned republic is a matter for the people, not for the High Court.  And I had naively assumed that High Court appointments are made on merit.

Whether or not a candidate for judicial or other appointment is a monarchist is an irrelevant consideration, although I find it difficult to understand how someone could honourably accept appointment as The Queen’s representative if they were opposed to the Crown.

If the matter concerns a government appointment on whether Australia should become a republic, it is a scandal not to include a reasonable number of constitutional monarchists.

…no one who honours their Oath need apply….

 

 In a letter to The Australian ( 12/12) Paul Keating  recently defended himself  against a suggestion by Professor Geoffrey  Blainey that he had run the republic debate in a “narrow way.”

Accusing Professor Blainey of rewriting history and damning him as “a nasty old neo-con”, Mr. Keating pointed to the fact that Malcolm Turnbull and former NSW Liberal Premier served on the Republic Advisory Committee.

He carefully avoided the fact that only republicans were allowed to serve on that committee.  Mr. Keating could not have been narrower than that.

Paul Keating then claimed the republican model he endorsed had the support of both the liberal and National Parties. Now that is really rewriting history.

It was a scandal that Paul Keating as Prime Minister ruled out of consideration anyone who favoured the existing system.

His disgraceful precedent was followed this year when the 2020 Summit was notoriously gerrymandered to produce a ludicrous vote of 99:1 in favour of some undefined politicians’ republic.

…"incongruous" monarchist…

Let me return to the story about Michael Kirby, who incidentally wrote the ACM Charter.  In the report in The Australian Michael Pelly observes that the “most incongruous thing about Kirby is that he is a monarchist.”  

“Yet, it fits neatly with his respect for pillars of society such as family, church and parliament. He has also emphasised the importance of obligations in his judgments, especially in contract cases,’ he says.

 

He continues: “It is almost as if he distinguishes between those in a position to help themselves and those who can't because of the impediments put before them. Indeed, if (Justice) Callinan could be described as a radical conservative, then( Justice)  Kirby is the conservative radical. “

I suspect that the only people who find Michael Kirby’s monarchism incongruous are those odd people whom The Independent recently described as holding “congenial, if eccentric, meetings in restaurants from time to time to plot the downfall of the monarchy.” 

Justice Kirby’s colleagues all agree on one thing, Justice Kirby has rendered indefatigable and superb service to the nation.

His fame and achievements may encourage the media and others neither to typecast constitutional monarchists, nor to be so prejudiced against them.

  


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